People are moving in front of the roost room before a press conference on the announcement that Crystal City has been chosen as the home of Amazon's new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, USA, November 13 2018. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque
16. March 2019
By Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc plans to set up a second headquarters in Northern Virginia after being rebuffed in New York, will face its first test when local officials vote for Saturday on a proposed financial package worth an estimated $ 51
In November, Amazon chose National Landing, an area owned by Arlington County and Alexandria, just outside Washington, along with New York for the so-called HQ2 or other headquarters.
It followed a year-long search where hundreds of municipalities, from Newark, New Jersey, to Indianapolis, competed for the coveted tax dollars and high pay jobs the project promises.
In February, Amazon suddenly abolished plans to build part of its second headquarters in New York after opposition from local leaders, upset by incentives promised by state and city politicians.
While the opposition in Arlington is still decisive, the poll has become a political flashpoint between the project's follower and activist opponents. It has given local activists the opportunity to push for a delay, so that the county's proposals can be evaluated and discussed further.
A panel of five members of the Arlington County Board will vote on whether Amazon will receive the estimated $ 51 million, a fraction of the $ 481 million promised by the county. Only 5 percent of incentives are direct.
Amazon has also been offered a $ 750 million package by the state that Virginia General Assembly approved with little resistance.
The scene at Saturday's voice is probably different. It is expected that at least 100 members from local activist groups will participate.
Protests are expected to start at least one hour before the poll comes to a hearing at. 1pm EST, Reuters has learned from workgroups.
The $ 51 million includes a controversial direct financial incentive or cash grant of $ 23 million to Amazon over 15 years, which will be collected from the Arlington hotel room tax. The grant is conditional on Amazon occupying six million square meters of office space over the first 16 years.
Arlington has also offered to invest around $ 28 million over 10 years of future property tax revenue rather than infrastructure and open space at the headquarters.
An archive on the county's website says that $ 23 million grants and $ 28 million in strategic public infrastructure investments were "contributing to Amazon choosing Arlington for its headquarters."
A spokesman for the county refused to comment.
Arlington County Court Christian Dorsey has stated that he had "no interest" by postponing the vote, had not heard any suggestion to do so from other board members, and expected the move to pass.
The Amazon's 25,000 new jobs will help offset the more than 34,000 jobs that Arlington has lost since 2003 due to federal agency bars and other factors, and help diversify the local economy, said company spokeswoman Jill Kerr. "Our $ 2.5 billion investment will generate more than $ 3.2 billion in tax revenue that can be spent on public services."
Activists from For Us, not Amazon, a coalition of nine working groups and green organizations working in areas like minority advocacy, are not convinced.
Roshan Abraham, an organizer of Our Revolution Arlington, a coalition leader, said that his group wants Amazon to engage more in society, hold public hearings on company investments, raise rising housing costs, offset low-income families near proposed site and donate for affordable housing funds.
"What we are very worried about is that Amazon has met behind closed doors, on invitation events, but has not met the public in a public way," he said.
Amazon said it has met many community leaders and residents, including local businesses, non-profit organizations, and community and community associations, and will continue to engage with them as it expands its presence in Arlington.
(Reporting Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing Richard Chang)